Leading by Example in the Wood River Valley

“The health care in this valley is outstanding. We have access to big city health care right here in Blaine County, and we’re ahead of the curve for supporting women’s health.”

– Julie Wrigley

Guided by a strong moral compass and an innate sense of civic responsibility, Julie Wrigley courageously tackles local and global challenges with vision, integrity and gusto.

Julie leads by example.

As president and CEO of Wrigley Investments and the co-founder of Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability—now tied into Global Future Laboratory at ASU where she is co-chair—she connects resources and partners to develop cutting-edge solutions that improve life on earth for all.

“I’m not an activist, but I know morally when it’s the right time to act,” Julie explained, who credits her social and environmental altruism to the values instilled in her as a child. “The Julie A. Wrigley Foundation is committed to three things: the environment, health care and education.” Focusing on initiatives in the regions where she resides, Julie tirelessly walks the talk, supporting causes that forge healthier, happier and more sustainable communities.

In the Wood River Valley, Julie has played a key role in the development of some of St. Luke’s Wood River’s innovative health services. Her support began with the New Hospital Campaign in 1997, which launched the St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center we know today. Julie’s generosity is evident in many of the hospital’s current extraordinary services, including the Women’s Imaging Center, the Infusion Center and additional top-quality imaging technology. The initiatives to fund this technology have been instrumental in saving lives—providing a level of health care that is rarely found in small communities.

The Women’s Imaging Center, which was fully funded through community philanthropy, has performed 38,000 lifesaving digital mammograms since it opened in 2009. More recently, St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation invested in 3-D mammography technology to better detect abnormalities in breast tissue and also raised funds for breast MRI technology to improve patient outcomes.

“The health care in this valley is outstanding,” Julie said. “We have access to big city health care right here in Blaine County, and we’re ahead of the curve for supporting women’s health,” something that is important to Julie.

Julie is no stranger to the power of uplifting women. After her husband, William Wrigley, passed away in 1999, she moved to Sun Valley and found solace and strength in her community of female friends. “There was a great mentorship of women friends in this valley who served as an informal support network,” she said. Her new home was a natural fit as Julie had been visiting Sun Valley since the early 1950s to ski with her parents. From a young age, she loved the valley’s beauty and connection to Mother Nature. Even as a child, she was closely attuned to her surroundings and curious as to the why of what she saw. When she noticed environmental degradation around her, she paid attention.

“I was born with a quirky brain that cared about nature. I was lucky enough to live next to the ocean in Southern California, and I noticed at an early age that the abalone that lived on the rocks along the coast were disappearing. What child cares about a bunch of abalones?” Julie said.

It is Julie’s ability to see the details and interconnectedness of environmental, economic and social systems that make her so effective at developing inclusive solutions with real impact. “Our issues are all interrelated,” she explained, “and we have to actively develop solutions to ensure sustainable futures for all.” Julie believes the pandemic proved that we are deeply intertwined. Borders and imagined walls “do not stop the spread of diseases, social issues or climate change,” she said.

Julie urges us to be engaged world citizens and to seize the opportunities in front of us. For example, Julie recognized the need to support the St. Luke’s Wood River staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, so she pivoted her giving to the Foundation’s Circle of Friends program, which provides support to staff facing unexpected financial hardships. “The hospital and the staff have been amazing. They are the reason we have such an incredible hospital and community,” she said.

Julie believes it is time for each of us to open our hearts to others by engaging in our communities. “I invite everyone of all ages to pick one day a month to think beyond themselves and to do something kind for someone else,” she said. She encourages everyone who has the time and skills—as well as the personal attributes to create a positive ripple in the world—to exemplify “giving back” and show kindness to all.

“The health care in this valley is outstanding. We have access to big city health care right here in Blaine County, and we’re ahead of the curve for supporting women’s health.” Julie Wrigley.